The world of indie cinema, notably that of one of my favorite film companies, Troma Entertainment, has lost one of their greats on Monday with the death of Joe Fleishaker, who passed away in New York City at the age of 62.
Born Joseph Isaac Fleishaker, he started a successful career at the New York-based Troma Inc. when he was cast as an extra in 1988’s Troma’s War. However, due to his gigantic frame, director and company founder Lloyd Kaufman gave Fleishaker more screen time and this would lead to Fleishaker becoming one of the biggest names in the “Tromaverse”.
He can be seen as a member of Apocalypse Inc. alongside future action star Michael Jai White in The Toxic Avenger Part II and III; playing a smartaleck cop who makes fun of the titular hero in Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.; and even portrayed Troma co-founder Michael Herz (there is a real Michael Herz, but at the time he was more behind the scenes and the quiet half of the duo) in a series of promotional ads for the indie film company. In 2001, he played the Troma equivalent of Robin the Boy Wonder in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV.
Aside from his work at Troma, Fleishaker appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in a series of sketches.
Having suffered health problems due to his frame, Fleishaker lost 160 pounds after he was hospitalized in 2012.
Fleishaker was always fun to watch when he appeared in the Troma movies. You can’t help but appreciate a normal guy doing something he truly loved. Even watching him in the making of Toxic Avenger IV, where he had some issues with Kaufman, revolving around his schedule, he still made the most of his work in the film due to his loyalty to Kaufman.
World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Joe Fleishaker, one of the Troma Team’s finest.
To pay tribute to Fleishaker, here are his promotional videos as “Michael Herz” courtesy of YouTube user precertvideo. RIP Joe!
WARNING: The last clip in the video might be stomach-turning!